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Chamber launches leadership program

Chamber launches leadership program
Historian Jeff Sisson provided a brick-by-brick history lesson of downtown Charles City on Wednesday, Sept. 13, as part of the first session of the Chamber of Commerce’s leadership development program. Press photo by Travis Fischer
By Travis Fischer,

Note: Travis Fischer is both reporting on and is a participant in the leadership development program.

A baker’s dozen of Charles City area residents spent the day learning about the community and themselves as the Charles City Chamber of Commerce kicked off the first session in its new leadership development program.

Sponsored by area businesses and community organizations, the program is a new educational opportunity designed to fill gaps in leadership in both businesses and volunteer organizations.

“The communities that have done something like this have really benefited,” said Chamber Director Mark Wicks.

Finding new talent to take on leadership roles has become a growing issue for businesses and volunteer organizations alike, prompting the Chamber to develop a program to help develop those skills.

Meeting once a month for nine months, the group will spend the day doing different activities to encourage them to become more active in their workplace and community.

“It’s good because I’ve never had any involvement with the Charles City community,” said Amanda Below, who has lived in Charles City for five years but works at Zips in New Hampton. “It makes you really want to be part of the team.”

“I’m really excited to learn more and make connections,” said Patrick Nyburg, who moved to Charles City last year to be the school district’s Talented and Gifted Teacher. “I feel energized to get involved.”

From new residents to established community members, the class features a wide cross-section of people who live or work in Charles City, representing employees from several major employers.

The inaugural class began with a session from guest speaker Stacy Besch of Algona, who encouraged the group to “take flight” through a series of eagle-themed analogies and parables.

Afterwards, the group took a bus tour of Charles City, where Wicks pointed out different businesses and amenities in the city and the history behind many of them. From the uniqueness of the Floyd County Medical Center’s birthing unit to various parks along the river that have been developed in the wake of floods, Wicks offered a wealth of information about what the city offers.

“We want to expose them to as many things as possible,” said Wicks. “I think everyone here learned one new thing today.”

The tour continued downtown as local historian Jeff Sisson guided the group along Main Street, providing a detailed history of the city as it was built brick-by-brick and then re-built following the 1968 tornado.

With one session down, the group will come back together in October where members will hear from Charles City local Tom Moore of Key Performance Consulting. Each session will be different across the nine months, providing the group with different lessons on leadership and first-hand knowledge about how the different businesses and volunteer groups in Charles City operate.

“It’s going to help our community,” said Wicks. “People that know more about their community are more likely to stay in the community.”

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